Wahoo – This Saunders County deputy walks on all fours.
Mac, a member of the Saunder’s County Sheriff’s Office K-9 team, is a certified dual purpose dog trained in both narcotics detection and police patrol work.
Mac has worked in Saunders County since 2015 and, according to Deputy Jeff Hermanson, is a very important asset to the department.
“When used, he allows us to perform our duties in a much more efficient manner,” he said. “Whether it’s locating hiding suspects in the outdoors or buildings he can complete this much quicker and safer than we can as humans.”
Hermanson said Mac’s assistance allows the deputies to stay behind cover while he searches the area.
“Mac can do what we would do without putting humans in harm’s way,” he said “He can also locate suspects when we possibly would miss them by smelling them.”
Mac is trained to indicate to the odors of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. He is also proficient in evidence recovery and tracking of subjects who have fled a crime. In addition, he can be used to track subjects who have not been involved in a crime.
Adrenaline is a key factor in tracking humans, according to Hermanson, because it puts off a odor that humans would not be able to detect.
“Humans only have their eyes and ears,” he said. “A dog has eyes, much better hearing and a nose that is indescribable.”
Hermanson also said that Mac is a big distraction to suspects. which allows the deputies to move in quickly and take control of a situation.
“People tend to pay all of their attention to the dog that is staring at them,” he said. “I like to say that a mechanic can work on a vehicle with pliers and crescent wrench but it would be much easier and more efficient to work on it with proper wrenches and tools. Mac is the same to our department. He is just another tool in our tool box of equipment that we can use to make the job easier and safer for everyone, including the suspect.”
Hermanson said Mac is not only his colleague but a member of his family as well.
“Mac stays with me at my house,” he said. “I take care of him 24/7. He sits at home just waiting for me to come out with my uniform on and get him to go to work.”
When Mac first came to live with Hermanson he was not sure who to trust.
“He was really skittish for a few weeks when I first got him as a 14-month-old dog,” he said. “Then after we built our trust he wouldn’t leave me. After playing with him and introducing him to others you could just tell that he realized everything was good.”
Hermanson said regarding his trained skills, Mac has become a much more confident dog.
“In the beginning he would constantly look at me for positive reinforcement,” he said. “Now when told what to do he just goes and does it, he couldn’t care less what I’m doing. It’s like, dad sit back and watch, I got this.”
When Mac is not chasing bad guys he loves to play.
“He loves anything I throw for him, or anything he can find in my yard when I’m not paying attention,” he said.
Hermanson said Mac loves attention and doesn’t care where it comes from.
“Whether it’s someone petting him or playing with another dog, he is a very social dog,” he said.
Hermanson said the ultimate goal for he and Mac is for all individuals involved in an incident to go home at the end of the day.
“If we can help in that, we have done our job as a K9 team,” he said. “It is very rewarding when all of the hard work we put in with training pays off and we perform our job at a high level.”